Often times when someone we know is grieving, we are at a loss. We struggle to find the words to say and the comfort to give. Even those of us who have suffered through the death of a loved one ourselves are often perplexed, floundering to find a way to help our friends find solace; a way to help them through their pain.
Kristi Bothur, a contributing author to Sunshine After the Storm, and the blogger behind This Side of Heaven, offers some fantastic advice in the following article on what we can do when someone we know is dealing with the loss of a baby.
I’m often asked the question, “My friend has just had a loss. What can I do to help?”
Of course, each person’s loss is unique, as is their response to it. A miscarriage is different from an ectopic pregnancy, which is different from a stillbirth, which is different from the death of an infant. Not that one is harder or easier, but each is different. Not only that, but my miscarriage is not the same as my friend’s or my co-workers or your sister’s.
Proverbs 14:10 says it well: “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”
That said, there are some things that specifically seem to bring comfort to a grieving mother after the death of her baby at any stage of pregnancy or infancy. Some things that helped me, especially after the death of Naomi:
- sympathy cards acknowledging that I had a real loss; I kept every single one.
- e-mails that acknowledged I had a loss; I kept every single one.
- anything that used my baby’s name
- restaurant gift cards, especially places where you can take out or eat in, so we didn’t have to think about meals.
- books; An Empty Cradle, A Full Heart; The One Year Book of Hope; Grieving the Child I Never Knew; and A Guide for Fathers are some of the best.
- cards that came a month later, and two months later, and on special and difficult days.
- cards that came on the anniversary of Naomi’s death.
- jewelry to wear that reminds me of all of my children in Heaven.
- something to cuddle.
- a living plant that we were able to plant in memory of our baby
If someone close to you has had a loss, these links will also have ideas for you to minister to them:
- Ways to Support A Parent Whose Baby has Died (a downloadable brochure from SHARE)
- Helping a Friend Through a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Early Infant Death
- How Churches Can Help
If you have had a loss, what specific gestures from friends were comforting to you? Share in the comments below.